November 5th Was a Wonderful Day For a Fall Wedding
We were prescient. In July, we pegged Nov. 5 as one of the best weekends to miss for an autumn wedding. Alabama/LSU tends to be borderline unwatchable. There was not much else of note on the schedule. Sometimes, that’s when things get weird. This week was not one of those weeks.
Four of the legitimate top six – Michigan, Clemson, Louisville, and Ohio State – each scored 52 or more points and held conference opponents – Maryland, Syracuse, Boston College, and Nebraska respectively – to 13 points combined.
Washington blew away California 66-27 in Berkeley. One presumes the playoff committee will find some fault with the Huskies’ defensive performance, in which they held a prolific offense to 4.89 yards/play and stopped 13/14 third down attempts. LSU put in an excellent defensive performance against Alabama, finally conceding points in the fourth quarter. But, the Crimson Tide shut them out.
Two coaches mouthed off to or about fans. Vanderbilt had a crazy field goal block. Texas Tech stole a touchdown from Texas. Tommy Armstrong came back during the second half. But, if you caught those highlights, you’re pretty much caught up on the college football weekend.
Good Job, Good Effort, College Football Playoff Committee
The College Football Playoff Committee released its initial Top 25 ranking last week. Those weekly rankings are a fool’s errand. This week provided yet more evidence they are meaningless, silly, and anything but definitive.
Predictive value is a ranking system’s ultimate test. The Committee made its bold “talk about this” decision by pushing 7-1 Texas A&M into the top four, ahead of undefeated Washington, Louisville, and Ohio State. That Texas A&M team, flush with confidence, went to Starkville and lost to a 3-5 Mississippi State team. Dan Mullen’s crew had lost to South Alabama, labored with UMass and Samford, and had one SEC win over South Carolina.
Shocking? Well, not really. The Committee touted a team that lost by 19 to Alabama and needed overtime to dispatch Tennessee when the Vols committed seven turnovers. It was also the team that blew a fourth-quarter lead and needed overtime to put away a not very good UCLA.
Fair play to Texas A&M for pulling away from Arkansas and catching Auburn before the Tigers’ offense clicked. But, the Aggies were ranked up at No. 7 by default. Consensus wisdom trumped committee wisdom. It’s almost like not factoring in victory margin in a formal fashion is a stupid way to assess college football teams.
Top 25 Voters Should Check Out Some USC Games
No one is watching the Pac 12. That’s the only rational conclusion we can draw. USC has won five-straight. Four were by three touchdowns or more. The fifth was over a Colorado team ranked in the Top 15. Despite this record, voters ranked the Trojans outside the Top 25 in both major polls.
Do you want to credit the two-loss teams that did not play Bama? Fine. Ride with Baylor if you wish. Let’s look at just the three-loss teams in the top 25, LSU and Florida State. The Seminoles’ best win is either Wake Forest, one-score over Miami, or one-score over N.C. State. Their Louisville disaster was as bad as USC’s to Alabama.
LSU has lost to some good teams. They have zero wins over winning Power 5 programs. Like FSU, their argument for being good stems from close losses and beating Ole Miss, 1-5 vs. Power 5 teams in 2016, meaning something. Neither team has a win as good as Colorado.
We’re not saying the Trojans are outstanding. But, the logic keeping them out of the Top 25 is more flimsy, unfounded, and betraying of inherent biases than climate change denial.
Leonard Fournette Could Not Get It Done Against Bama
Leonard Fournette has been dominant, perhaps LSU’s best all-time player. But, he will leave for the NFL Draft after this season as a disappointment for the Tigers, against Alabama. In three games against the Tide, Fournette has rushed for only 145 yards and one touchdown on 57 carries. The last two seasons as a Heisman contender: just 66 yards on 36 carries.
Much of that is Alabama’s run defense. Under Nick Saban, the Tide have stopped the run better and more consistently than another program has done anything. They have finished outside the Top 10 in yards/carry nationally once since 2008. (14th in 2013) Much of that remainder is LSU having nothing resembling a passing game when it counted.
Arkansas Should Go On Bye Weeks More Often
Auburn stomped Arkansas 56-3 two weeks ago. The defeat highlighted how Arkansas had one of FBS’ worst statistical defenses. They were dead last stopping the run and near the bottom in allowing third down conversions. Playing Florida, fresh off a bye week, went a lot better for the Razorbacks, in a 31-10 win.
Arkansas held the Gators to just 12 rushing yards on 14 attempts. They thwarted 10/11 Florida third down attempts. We’re not sure where beating Florida by three touchdowns falls on the “Bret Bielema” eroticism scale. But, add the 6-3 Razorbacks to the list of SEC West teams who would have had little trouble winning the SEC East.
Welcome to the Hot Seat Discussion, Rich Rodriguez
Rich Rodriguez started off hot at Arizona, winning 26 games his first three seasons and getting the Wildcats to a Pac 12 title game. Since then, he has lost 12 of his last 15 Pac 12 games. Arizona is just 2-7 this season, with wins over Grambling and Hawaii. The Wildcats did take Washington to overtime in September. They have lost five-straight since by multiple scores. The nadir came this weekend, falling 69-7 to Washington State.
Utter futility? Shuttling through defensive coordinators? Everpresent struggle face? Michigan fans remember it well. A short time ago, the question was whether Arizona could hang on to Rich Rodriguez. Next season, the question will be whether Rich Rodriguez can hang onto his job at Arizona.
Stop Betting On Michigan State, Everyone
Michigan State is in the midst of a brutal season. Losing 31-27 to Illinois, the Spartans fell to 2-7. It was their seventh loss in a row. Nonetheless, Mark Dantonio’s team continues to get way too much “respekt” from the public.
Per Covers, Michigan State ranks 5th in public money bet on them this year. The Spartans have been favorites in seven of their nine games. They are 0-7 against the spread in those games. The one outright win was the opener against Furman. Somehow people keep talking themselves back into Sparty. MSU is a (-14.5) favorite against Rutgers this weekend. Don’t do it.